January 31, 2013 7:36pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee' Recap: 'Naked' Never Looked So Good
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Thursday's "Naked" episode of Glee.]
After weeks of cryptic tweets featuring the topless men of Glee, the Fox musical unleashed one of its most adult-themed hours as NYADA freshman Rachel Berry pondered taking a role in a student film that required her to perform a topless scene.
As it has been doing for the better part of its fourth season, the theme spilled into the Ohio side of the Fox dramedy when Tina decides New Directions should produce a beefcake calendar to support the club's trip to Regionals after Sam and Blaine successfully prove the rival Warblers cheated.
During the episode, Rachel, Sam, Jake and Marley each learn different lessons about nudity, both figurative and literal.
For Rachel, Santana and Quinn return to stage an intervention and explain the 2-2-2 rule -- encouraging her to examine how she'd feel if she actually went through with the nude scene in two days, two weeks and two years. Ultimately, she realizes she's in no way ready for it. Instead, she retreats to her best "Old Rachel" pals, and the trio cover Sara Bareilles' "Love Song." The performance ends with a line from Santana that we've been waiting all season to hear: "I'm in no rush to get back to Kentucky; New York may be more my speed."
Sam's lesson comes when he overcompensates with New Directions' Men of McKinley calendar after completely blowing the SATs. After going all-out with a tutorial for the guys, which includes broga and "manscaping," Blaine calls him on taking it too far and says that he's much more than abs and impressions. The school president calls in Emma to help his vice president realize that test scores aren't everything, as there's a long roster of schools that find them meaningless. "Even if you have seven percent body fat, all of us are still going to love you -- and we're all going to laugh at your impressions."
Left stumbling to write an essay that will help him gain admission to the school of his choice, Blaine plays a testimonial that includes nearly everyone -- including Mercedes -- that reminds Sam of all of the amazing things he's done for everyone, including his family. It brings a tear to Sam's eye when he realizes that he's much more than beefcake. Chord Overstreet continues to be an MVP this season as he injects both humor and heart into the role as Sam and Blaine's friendship becomes one of Glee's best pairings.
Sam takes everything to heart and helps make sure Artie, who has body issues, is included in the Men of McKinley calendar. Instead of objectifying his body, Sam instead poses fully clothed, making sure Artie isn't the only one who isn't revealing his abs in the hot-selling calendar.
Speaking of the calendar, Jake (and by association Marley) learns that there's an emotional degree of being naked. Marley and Jake struggle to profess their love for one another when songs "A Thousand Years" and "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)" fail to bring the "I love you" out of either of them. Jake ultimately gets some major advice from Blake, who tells him being naked emotionally means more than taking your shirt off. Ultimately, Jake signs Marley's calendar with those three very big words: "I love you." Awwww.
The episode ends with a new Sam (and "Jarley") brilliantly covering "This is the New Year" by A Great Big World. It's one of the most dynamic and appropriate songs the show has covered of late (if ever). It's filled with cute moments from Sam and Blaine and from Sam and Artie and one tremendously funny eye-roll from Kitty.
What did you think of "Naked"? Does it rank as one of the best episodes of the season in your book? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.